GTNP: Bicyclist Injured in Truck Collision

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Bicyclist Injured in Collision with Delivery Truck

A 54-year-old Jackson, Wyoming resident received multiple injuries when he was struck by the rearview mirror of a delivery truck while biking on Highway 26/89/191, about 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11. The delivery truck, driven by a 54-year-old Jackson man, and the bicyclist were both northbound on the highway when the accident occurred approximately one mile north of the Airport Junction in Grand Teton National Park. The cyclist was wearing a bike helmet.

After making contact with the bicyclist, the driver of the truck quickly stopped and made a 911 call on his cell phone to summon help. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the rerouted 911 call from the Teton County Sherriff’s Office at 9:19 a.m. and a park ranger immediately responded to the accident site.

The ranger provided emergency medical care to the bicyclist and sent him by park ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Further details about this incident will be available at the conclusion of an accident investigation.

About 3.8 million people travel by vehicle on Grand Teton National Park roads each year. While accidents between vehicles and bicycles or pedestrians are rare, park managers completed a transportation plan in 2007 that included, among other goals, a system of multi-use pathways within the park to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicle traffic.

Construction of a separated pathway running parallel to Highway 26/89/191 is scheduled to begin on June 1, and a 6.3 mile pathway segment from Moose Junction to the park’s south boundary will join a pathway system being built from the Town of Jackson toward the park. Once constructed, the entire pathway (approximately 12 miles) will provide a measure of safety, separating non-motorized users from motorists on Highway 26/89/191.

Grand Teton Natl. Park Recognizes Intl. Migratory Bird Day

Grand Teton National Park Recognizes International Migratory Bird Day

Grand Teton National Park will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) with a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Park ranger naturalist Andrew Langford will visit areas throughout the park that provide excellent opportunities to locate, identify, and record birds as part of the North American Migration Count. The free activity begins at 8 a.m. in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond near Jackson Lake Lodge. Reservations are not required.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate in the annual bird count and bird-watching excursion hosted by Grand Teton. Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

“Go Wild, Go Birding!” serves as the theme for the 2011 IMBD observance. This declaration highlights an attempt to engage new audiences—young people and adults alike—in learning about bird-watching and bird conservation. Participants in Saturday’s bird-watching caravan will learn about the latest programs and activities designed to create new enthusiasts and introduce them to birding as a worthwhile and pleasant pastime. Participants will also gain basic skills and techniques for identifying birds by their size, plumage and calls.

Observed each year in May to celebrate and support bird conservation, IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight—an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that may contribute to worldwide declines. This year marks the 21st anniversary for Partners in Flight.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count, please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399. Participants of the IMBD activity are reminded that park entrance stations are open; therefore, they will need to present a park pass to travel through these entrance gates.

 

Missing Skiers Found in GTNP

On the evening of Saturday, April 23, after a long day of searching an avalanche debris field in Garnet Canyon Meadows, a Grand Teton National Park ranger picked up two discernible beacon signals deep in the snowpack.

Due to the late hour—coupled with the need to evacuate all search teams from the Teton canyon and cease helicopter operations before day’s end—a handful of rescuers were not able to dig deep enough to locate the source of the signals. Early Sunday morning, a core group of park rangers flew back into Garnet Canyon to resume digging. After two hours, they reached Walker Pannell Kuhl and Gregory Seftick, buried under 13 feet of snow near a large boulder in the avalanche path.

Over 35 rescue personnel and four canine teams methodically searched the large avalanche field in Garnet Canyon for more than ten hours on Saturday.

With the help of good weather, rescuers hoped to find any clue as to the fate of Kuhl and Seftick. At 7 p.m. with just two teams left to airlift from the canyon, Ranger Nick Armitage made one final sweep with his avalanche transceiver over an area that had been probed by rescuers earlier in the day. After Armitage picked up first one beacon signal, and then another, five additional rescuers joined in digging through the dense snowpack to reach the source. Although five feet of snow was cleared away, rescuers were not able to reach the beacon before the last helicopter flight needed to be made. Upon removing the snow, however, rescuers also made a positive probe hit. It should be noted that avalanche probe poles are generally 10 feet long and the beacon was deeper than their initial reach.

On Sunday morning, helicopter pilot Nicole Ludwig—flying a Teton County Search and Rescue contract helicopter out of Hillsboro, Oregon—airlifted six park rangers back into the Garnet Canyon Meadows to resume digging toward the two beacons. Rangers continued to excavate through another ten feet of snow before they reached Walker and Greg. Rangers then prepared them for a helicopter flight to the valley floor where a Teton County coroner met the ship.

It appears that Walker and Greg were buried by a large avalanche that shed off the north face of Nez Perce Peak sometime Saturday night, April 16, while they were in their tent, located near a large boulder between the Platforms and the Meadows of Garnet Canyon. Walker and Greg carried avalanche beacons and other appropriate gear with them on their trek into the Teton Range, and their beacons were transmitting when the avalanche enveloped their campsite.

The concentrated search for Kuhl and Seftick lasted six days, due in part to stormy weather, new snowfall and ongoing concerns about avalanche danger for rescue teams. Search operations involved park rangers and staff, as well as numerous Jackson Hole community rescue personnel. Grand Teton National Park appreciates the cooperation and dedication of the organizations and companies who assisted during the past several days.

Those groups include trained rescue personnel, volunteers and support staff from Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton Interagency Fire personnel, Bridger-Teton National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center staff, a Yellowstone National Park employee, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue teams, and Grand Targhee Resort ski patrol and canine teams, as well as experienced professional mountaineers from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum Mountain Guides.

The Seftick and Kuhl families extend their heartfelt thanks to all rescuers for their work in helping to locate their sons and brothers.

Grand Teton Natl. Park Search for Skiers Entering Sixth Day

 

Search for Missing Skiers Enters Sixth Day

The search for Walker Pannell Kuhl, age 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah and Gregory Seftick, age 31, of Columbia Falls, Montana resumed today, Saturday, April 23 in Grand Teton National Park. Kuhl and Seftick began an overnight camping and skiing trip one week ago, and were reported missing on Monday, April 18, when Kuhl failed to show up for work. This marks the sixth day for a concentrated search to locate the missing skiers.

A high pressure system brought sunny skies and calm winds this morning, creating perfect weather conditions to continue search operations. Four K9 search and rescue teams from nearby Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, and more than 35 search and rescue personnel were airlifted from a helispot on the Teton Park Road (elevation 6,685 feet) into a high elevation helispot in Garnet Canyon (9,500 feet) near the base of Nez Perce Peak to begin another full day of combing through a large avalanche debris field. A broad snowfield on the north face of Nez Perce gave way sometime after Friday, April 15, and the resulting avalanche path covers Garnet Canyon Meadows where it is presumed that the two men may be found. The avalanche debris field is approximately 200 feet wide, 200-300 yards long and 15 feet deep.

Grand Teton National Park rangers again enlisted the assistance of trained rescue personnel and support staff from Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton Interagency Fire, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue, and Grand Targhee Resort ski patrol and K9 teams, as well as experienced professional mountaineers from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum Mountain Guides (two park concession companies) to provide the best possible and most complete exploration of snow-covered area where Kuhl and Seftick may be located.

Local weather forecaster Jim Woodmency, who joined the search effort today, reminded the search teams that over three feet of new snow has fallen on the Teton Range over the past week. Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center has recorded 661 inches of snowfall at the Raymer snow plot (elevation 9,300 feet) so far this winter. The Tetons receive an average of

400 inches of snowfall per year.

Further information about today’s search effort will be available after individual teams return to the incident command center near park headquarters at day’s end.  Visit http://gtnpnews.blogspot.com/2011/04/search-for-missing-skiers-enters-sixth.html for more information.

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